Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

A Lesson In Backup: Taking Care Of Your Data

A Lesson In Backup: Taking Care Of Your Data
By

The demand for storage capacity continues to grow unabated in the business world as well as in the consumer sector. As home users use up their PC's hard disk capacity, extra storage space is becoming harder to come by despite ever-increasing sizes for today’s modern hard drives. In this editorial, we explore backup strategies and use Samsung’s new external disk drive, the Story Station, as our guinea pig to put them to work.


Consumer Electronics Generate Humongous Files

At home, entertainment and consumer electronics devices consume the most storage capacity. That is, frequent use of digital photo and video cameras and personal video recorders (PVRs) can quickly result in file collections that consume hundreds of gigabytes, if not multiple terabytes of disk space when they are archived on a PC or transferred to a PC for editing and post-processing.

Internal or External Drives?

When the storage space available on a computer dwindles, users have only a few options: they can either delete no-longer-needed files or they can boost the storage space available to them by adding disk drives. Because erasing files is a less-than-ideal option in most cases, an increase in storage space is the only real choice worth making.

Perhaps the most popular way to add storage or backup capacity to a PC is to hook up an external hard disk with a USB, eSATA, or FireWire connection (all of these qualify as direct-attached storage [DAS] technologies). This is the easiest way to go because it's just a matter of plugging in power and data cables, with no need to crack the PC case open.

Certainly, more effort is involved in installing and hooking up additional internal drives (assuming open drive bays and internal storage ports are available). If that's the route you want to go, it's necessary to disconnect the PC, open up its chassis, and start messing around with the drives, power supply, and data cables. And because more households are turning away from conventional desktop to notebook or compact PCs (such as nettops), it’s trickier to swap out a smaller, existing hard drive for something newer and bigger. Too often, replacing hard drives requires a complete reinstall of the operating system, which is an exercise that doesn’t bother PC enthusiasts, but involves too much effort for more mainstream users.

Simple and Uncomplicated Rule the Roost

Storage vendors, such as Seagate, Maxtor, and LaCie, jumped on the external storage bandwagon early, and have long offered simple, straightforward storage solutions to their customers. In this market segment today, users will encounter a plethora of offerings and options. Most recently, this includes the Samsung Story Station, an external USB 2.0-attached hard disk that comes in 500 GB, 1 TB, and 1.5 TB capacities (the biggest drive is its newest addition, having just hit the market in June 2009).

File Organization and Backup

Given the extraordinary capacities that hard disks deliver these days, proper file system organization is the key to successful file management. The right file-archiving system enables quick location and retrieval of files, while a carefully-crafted backup strategy provides protection against file damage or loss. Together, these elements define the best file-management practices, which are not only important in a business setting, but are also of critical importance for most home users as well.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 22 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    truehighroller , July 2, 2009 7:22 AM
    I just had an External Hard Drive die on me. The drive had all of our family pictures from the last 4 1/2 years on it.

    I managed to get, getbackdata to work for me but, it took 48 hrs for it to read the data and make an image of it on to a new hard drive that I bought "internal".

    I instantly after managing to get them back, put them on a DVD as well. Could of cost us a $1000 if I didn't know what I was doing.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2009 10:12 AM
    Too many people make that mistake... store their files on an external HD and think they are 'backed up'.
    They are only backed up if another, duplicate copy is held somewhere separate to the first copy. Keeping photos *only* on an external drive is not being backed-up!
    You were lucky to get them back... far to many people don't back up and learn the hard way...and unfortunately, usually there's no prior warning of when a drive fails.
  • 1 Hide
    feraltoad , July 2, 2009 10:21 AM
    Mozy or Carbonite are cheap right now...
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , July 2, 2009 11:26 AM
    yeah. same with the guy above, i have more than 4 years of pics and vids but i don't have an external or network drive, just uploaded them online.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2009 2:12 PM
    My backup solution? Using Ghost 2003, I backup my hard drive to a image file that is stored on a 1 TB drive. Then, I ghost the entire 1 TB drive over to another 1 TB which is then stored off-site.
  • -1 Hide
    pbrigido , July 2, 2009 2:59 PM
    I have thought about purchasing a 32GB cheap MLC SSD to use as a backup for pictures to eliminate the mechanical failure aspect of a conventional HD. I wonder how long a SSD can be without power before the memory cells lose their information.
  • 0 Hide
    truehighroller , July 2, 2009 3:56 PM
    TorchWoodMy backup solution? Using Ghost 2003, I backup my hard drive to a image file that is stored on a 1 TB drive. Then, I ghost the entire 1 TB drive over to another 1 TB which is then stored off-site.



    As long as it is stored on a Raid 1 or 0+1, 5 , 10 then you should be ok. The drive that crashed on me had an image of an install on it as well and all the files "pictures" were part of that image. Now I have a recent copy of everything on a DVD as well.
  • -1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , July 2, 2009 4:14 PM
    It's good to have an External USB/eSATA drive for back ups but those drives should also be backed up to a more "permanent" storage solution such as DVD or even tape (Yes, I know, it's old school). The best method of backing up critical files (such as a very important CAD file for a product, PhD Thesis,etc) should be backed up online. The best free online back up solution is to create a Gmail account and use GmailFS. For more info see: http://www.viksoe.dk/code/gmail.htm
    DL here: http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/GMail-Drive-shell-extension-Download-15944.html

    That's what I use. With ~7GB worth of space, it's enough to back up important files.
  • 5 Hide
    MU_Engineer , July 2, 2009 4:31 PM
    I am a little surprised that this article was on a geek-oriented website like THG. I was hoping to see something like setting up a RAID NAS or a home server and then automating the backup process. I mean, wasn't expecting to see anything significantly complex like setting up a headless server, writing a shell script to sort and move files by file type, and then setting up an automated differential backup system to run on a schedule. But come on, the article was just how to plug in a external USB hard drive, sort some files with the Vista GUI and manually run a couple of GUI backup tools.
  • 0 Hide
    Katsushiro , July 2, 2009 8:41 PM
    I too was disappointed with the lack of techyness in this article. I don't recall a single mention of a RAID solution. And I didn't see anything that could help me; I have a 160GB raptor and a 500GB media drive that I want to automatically mirror/backup both to a 750GB drive.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2009 8:59 PM
    I use Cobian Backup. It's free and very full featured. more people should use it.
  • -1 Hide
    PLATTERMAN , July 3, 2009 3:01 AM
    "Certainly, more effort is involved in installing and hooking up" Yes, i admit i am a newbie, but as far as adding internal drives i put 2 of them in in less than 15 minutes so its not complicated. It is wise to keep your OS and software on a seperate drive i have been told. Externals are priced reasonable also so they are a good choice too. You can back-up real important files, then disconnect them and store in a fire rated safe.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 3, 2009 3:53 AM
    I was a bit surprised how it recommends to save all your music and pictures and movies and what ever else in your profile under 'User' directory. I never use Vista, but would be the same as saving to the My Pictures under docs and settings in XP. This is no good to make your profile too large. I store all my data on separate physical disk D Drive (500 gb). I also have 2 external hard drives, a 500Gb and now a 1TB, so I can back up D and E drives all to the 1TB Drive. C Drive is only used for the OS and applications I install. Even my Mail goes into a pst file on the D Drive.
  • -1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , July 4, 2009 4:33 PM
    PLATTERMAN"Certainly, more effort is involved in installing and hooking up" Yes, i admit i am a newbie, but as far as adding internal drives i put 2 of them in in less than 15 minutes so its not complicated. It is wise to keep your OS and software on a seperate drive i have been told. Externals are priced reasonable also so they are a good choice too. You can back-up real important files, then disconnect them and store in a fire rated safe.

    Still not that safe. What would happen to the HDD if it's dropped from about 10-15ft? I'm pretty sure the HDD would be damaged.

    People should back up their files on DVD/USB Flash drive and also online along with HDD back up.
  • -2 Hide
    randomizer , July 6, 2009 10:26 AM
    I don't really backup anything. I laugh at Murphy's Law; I've never had a HDD fail :kaola: 
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2009 1:49 AM
    A couple of notes:
    - TEST your restore. I have had corporate customers who never tested restore and had it fail when they really needed it. Oops.
    - RAID (not RAID0) plus backup is ideal.
    - Make sure your RAID device NOTIFIES you of drive failures and SMART errors. If you don't know a disk failed it defies the purpose. My ReadyNAS started sending me emails about SMART errors. I replaced the drive BEFORE it failed. Pretty neat.
    - Don't forget that data can be lost for other reasons than drive failure. Fire, flood and theft come to mind. I bet more drives are lost than fail.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2009 7:03 PM
    Our house got struck by lightning and both my iMac and the external drive used by Timemachine for backup died.

    Lesson learned: Have an external (as in out of house) backup and backup to that regularly.

    Fortunately I had a fairly recent (only 4 months old external backup), but I still lost pics from 2 vacations... :-/
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 11, 2009 4:53 PM
    I have this HD and I backed up all my media files with it. When the drive I was using got destroyed. I replaced it with a new (bigger) drive, but when I connect the Samsung to it and install the software, it doesn't give me an option to copy those backed-up files onto the new drive... It seems to only want to restore these files to the original disc. And since I don't have that disc any more, I'm stuck...

    Any ideas on how to restore a drive's backup on to a new drive?

    Thanks,
    denver.obsession (at) gmail (dot) com
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 1, 2009 12:48 PM
    wTF' this review is really below tom's hardware standards! I can't see any tech info, nothing about RPM, cache, and what kind of a HDD is inside! Shame on Marcel Binder who wrote this so called 'review'!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 27, 2010 6:14 PM
    I keep all my files in at least 3 external different external hard drives... And the important stuff is also stored on my desktop computer, my notebook and my netbook.
Display more comments